This interview, with Jeff Vandenberg is from March 2015
1. What is your “inspiration story” — where did your interest in woodworking all begin?
it all started when I was 4 years of age. I was very interested in what my grandfather was doing on my parents home remodel. I always sat there and watched If they need something I would bring it to them (my father and grandfather). they made sure to always tell me the proper name of any tool and what it was used for and then, I would get quizzed. As the years went on my experience grew from them teaching me. It wasn’t till high school when I took woodworking I really took of with my skills. I took woodworking all four years.
2. Who is your woodworking mentor and why?
I’d have to say both my father and grandfather. They had patients to explain and teach the aspects about woodworking and other areas of life’s endeavors.
3. Power or hand tools? … and why
Well I started out learning with all hand tools and gradually was eased into power tools when I became much older. It wasn’t till high school that I received a full hands on with true woodworking equipment. Now, I do have to say working with hand tools is much more work but there’s a real sense of gratification when the project is done. There’s something to be said about the way wood talks to you when you use a plane. The plane makes a different sound on different types of wood; it lets you know just when the blade is at the right height and you get the proper shavings.
Now don’t get me wrong, I love the power tools and machinery just as much. It gets projects done much faster. However, if your first starting out learn the use of hand tools. You can learn a lot from being up close and personal with the wood.
4. What is your dream project and when do you think you will tackle the challenge?
Boy, Dream project. well I have done many dream project in the past at everyone on my homes. I’m currently in my 4th home. I have done additions, raising the house off the foundation to do wall replacement and footing work. I’ve built an entire new kitchen with all the cabinets. I have to say my next big project would be a new dinning room set and a bedroom set. When am i going to start this well hopefully towards the end of 2015.
5. What is the greatest gift that this craft gives you?
Relaxation and gratification
6. What are your “words of wisdom” that you want to pass on to others, especially to beginners?
If your going to start out in the world of wood I would take your time in your beginning projects. Learn on manipulating the wood by hand tools first. planes, scrapers, chisels, hand saw etc. however, if you choose not to and go for the power tools then once again take your time, do research on the wood you’re using and find out about it: Is it dense or sparse, how oily is it, how does it finish and what type of finish is good for that wood, how is it on your blades, Etc. By doing your research you can go into your project with that knowledge and you’ll come out with an outstanding finished product.
If you get frustrated walk away. Think about what’s going on.
Get on communities like this one and ask questions. Never be shy to ask questions; there are no dumb questions. questions come from a lack of knowledge. Google is a great friend.
The last thing is: read and understand all your instructional guides that came with your power tools before operating them. It only takes a split second to have an accident. Even us seasoned woodworkers have had our share. Mine came from rushing. I always tell myself slow down. Well take care and go make some saw dust
~Jeff Vandenberg aka “Woodsconsin”